The Paris Climate Talks are wrapping up and, like much of the rest of the world, I am hopeful for an ambitious accord to curb global warming. On Facebook I’ve been following my former roommate Kalee Kreider, who has been posting all sorts of “behind the scenes” photos and personal observations of the talks: Vladimir Putin (who is apparently shorter than you would think!), Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, President Obama… All in a day in the life of Kalee!
Kalee and I were roommates on a student exchange trip to the former Soviet Union. We studied the Russian language for several years but she was clearly far more capable than I ever was and so it doesn’t surprise me at all to see the heights she has attained. After being former Vice President Al Gore’s director of communications for several years, Kalee currently serves as a Science Policy Advisor to the United Nations and as a guest expert on C-Span.
Did I mention I’m a blogger? And I have two dogs?
So, while Kalee has been in France, I have found myself in Michigan at the Ford Motor Company for a special media day. While it may not be Paris, Dearborn is quite charming with its historic buildings. And while I may not be listening to government leaders discuss ways to strike a global accord, I was listening to Ford CEO Mark Fields make a pretty major announcement that will have a direct impact in reducing CO2 emissions:
That’s billion with a B.
And electric with an E.
And that’s pretty darn AWESOME.
So why is this such big news? Transportation produces almost 30% of all U.S. global warming emissions. Cleaner, more efficient vehicles can go a long way to decrease this.
I’ve blogged about this before, but Ford has gone beyond being just a car company. They understand that in order to have customers in the future, changes have to be made now in order to have that future, and that means doing business differently. Mark Fields describes this business mindset as “Having one foot in today and one foot in tomorrow.”
So, in addition to still making longtime fan-favorite cars, like the Mustang and the F-150, Ford has also committed to developing 13 new electrified vehicles. This is in addition to the 6 hybrid or fully electrified vehicles it already makes, including the Ford Focus Electric, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, Ford C-MAX Hybrid, Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.
And they understand that in order to get more customers to buy an electrified car, the cost has to come down, so much of my day in Dearborn was spent learning about all the research Ford is constantly doing (like 24 hours a day around the world) to try and bring down the cost of such a vehicle.
To facilitate this, Ford has helped create a world-class $9 million research center at the University of Michigan. The “Battery Lab” will give Ford and other partners, ranging from start ups to large corporations, a place to try out new battery technologies in an effort to create smaller, more powerful batteries while also reducing the cost of manufacturing them.
Plus Ford has offered competitors access to its electrified vehicle technology patents – a move to help accelerate industry-wide research and the development of electrified vehicles. You do not make a move like this unless you are truly committed to creating a global shift.
So, Ford really is serious about making electrified cars mainstream
Let’s hope our world leaders in Paris are just as committed!